Thousands of euro has been donated to a fundraiser aimed at keeping the Sligo Leitrim Islamic Cultural Centre on Mail Coach Road open to the public.
he Mail Coach Road unit, which also acts as a mosque for the Islamic community, was first opened in 2015 and sold at auction for €400,000 to a private buyer on Friday May 27, along with a commercial unit next door and three upstairs apartments.
Now the Islamic community are fundraising to gather €150,000 to buy the centre outright and continue having a place of worship within Sligo town.
To date a sum of €15.717 has been raised through the gofundme page.
The centre opened originally because there was no designated place for Muslims to gather for prayer within the region and also with the aim of acting as a venue where all members of the community could come together regardless of religion, race, or gender.
Dr Ismail Khan, a retired urologist who first came to Sligo from Pakistan in 1990 said that before the centre was opened they would often gather for prayer in people’s private homes, but that this was never an ideal situation as landlords would often give tenants notice to move or it would be inconvenient for people to travel to residences outside of town.
“This place came up for rent and the community approached the landlord about leasing it.
“It was rented out and the community set up on this ground floor with the carpets and everything. Since then it had all been running smoothly,” he said.
The unit was set up with a prayer hall and can be used by the Islamic community for prayer five times a day and acts as a focal point for the 1,000 plus practising Muslims in the Sligo and Leitrim region.
There is also a separate library room which is used to promote educational activities among children and young people, as well as to give the community an opportunity to learn more about Islam.
The unit was bought by Dr Muhammad Abdul Rehman Akram, an ophthalmologist at Sligo University Hospital who first moved to Sligo in 2020.
Dr Akram said his hope is to sell the ground floor unit to the Islamic community that he is a member of, and that the centre can continue to act as an important venue not just for Muslims but everyone in the Sligo and Leitrim region.
The centre is at its busiest during the Friday prayer time, which in the Islamic tradition is considered the most important prayer of the week, and usually has around 100 worshipers gathering together.
However, according to Dr Akram, this number can be as high as 300 or 400 worshippers during Ramadan, the month-long annual observance of fasting and introspection, when community members come together to meet and break their fast.